Tenancy Agreement - Private Renters in Camden
Understanding tenancy agreements
What is a tenancy agreement?
Before letting a property most landlords or letting agents will ask you to sign a written tenancy agreement. This is the legal agreement between the landlord and a tenant. It sets out the terms and conditions of the rental and the rights and obligations of both the landlord and tenant.
Signing the agreement
Remember that a tenancy agreement is legally binding on both parties, just like any other contract. Once you've signed it, you've committed to paying rent until the agreement ends. You can't just change your mind if you decide that the property no longer suits you.
Take your time to ensure that you understand everything. You shouldn’t sign any legal contract until you're happy that you understand it and can comply with it. Ask if you don’t understand anything.
All tenancy contracts must be signed by both the landlord and tenant and any witnesses present where applicable.
You should look out for the following terms and information in your tenancy agreement. If some are missing or not correct, ask your landlords to include and / or change them.
- Landlord, Managing Agent (if used) name and contact details, including emergency contact.
- Tenant/s - your name and contact details and others sharing with if joint tenants
- Property address
- Rent - how much and when is due? Who to pay and how?
- Council Tax – who pays and how
- Utility Bills – who pays and how
- Any other payments – check if you have to pay any other charges i.e. late payment of rent or keys replacement.
- Length of the tenancy – when it starts and ends. If it’s a fixed term tenancy it should state when the tenancy ends (if no date it will be 6 months).
- Ending the tenancy – is there a term which allows you or the landlord to end tenancy early “break clause”. The period of notice you or landlord need to give for leaving early
- Tenancy Deposit information - how much is it and what scheme is it protected in.
- Repairs - what your landlord is responsible for and what you are. How to report repairs.
- Restrictions on the property – check if there are any e.g. smoking, pets, overnight guests, decorating the property
- Rent increases – check to see if the landlord is allowed to increase the rent, usually with a fixed term rent they cannot do this until the term ends.
- Flatmates – if you’re moving into a shared house check for a term that makes you “jointly and severally” liable. This means that you are both individually and equally responsible for property. So if someone leaves and stops paying the rent, the landlord can pursue you and other shares to cover the amount.
The tenancy agreement would also normally also include terms about the basic rights that the law gives you as a tenant but if it doesn’t they still exist. These rights are as follows;
- protected from forced eviction
- the right to quiet enjoyment of their accommodation and not be harassed or disturbed
- the right to stop the landlord coming to property without giving adequate notice
- the right to live in a property in good state of repair
- the right to be provided with information about the tenancy
Find a model agreement for a shorthold assured tenancy on gov.uk.
Find out more information on unfair terms and implied conditions in tenancy agreements on the Shelter England website.
These can be used but it is recommended that a tenants ask for a written agreement. It makes it easier then to prove what was agreed and trace landlord and or agent. Landlords or managing agents are legally required to provide one if the tenant asks.
What type of tenancy do you have?
There are three basic types of tenancy agreement:
1. Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
This is the most common type of tenancy agreement. A tenant would usually be an assured shorthold tenant-
- if their tenancy started on or after 15 January 1989
- the landlord does not live at the property
- they have exclusive possession of the property as their main or principal home
- they pay rent periodically i.e. weekly or monthly to the landlord
2. Assured Tenancy
If the tenancy started before 15 January 1989, then it is likely an assured tenancy.
Assured tenancies are today mostly used for properties let by a housing association or by a housing trust. Assured tenants have a higher level of security than an assured shorthold tenants, as it allows them to remain in the property as long as they comply with and do not breach the terms of the agreement.
3. Regulated or ‘Protected’ Tenancy
Some tenancies that started before 15 January 1989, could be Regulated agreements, which gives the tenant the highest level of protection against eviction and rent increases and also gives them succession rights. Regulated tenancies are now very rare to come by.
Other agreements - Lodgers & License Agreements
If you live with your landlord in their property or in hostel accommodation, you would either be a lodger or licensee and deemed an excluded occupier. This means you have far less security than an assured or assured short hold tenant and can easily be evicted by your landlord
If you are a lodger living with your landlord, there is no obligation for them to provide you with a written agreement. If you have a written agreement, it could be a weekly or monthly rolling contract, which the landlord can end by simply providing you with reasonable notice to quit.
If you have a license, the landlord also does not have to go to court to evict you if you do not leave the property after notice quit the property expires notice the landlord cannot forcefully remove you and must obtain a warrant from the court before evicting you from the property.
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